COVID-19 continues to shape freshmen’s college experiences

Photo courtesy of Keira Burton, Pexels.

As I begin to reflect on my freshman experience, I can't help but realize that I didn’t feel prepared for college when I got here. A feeling that I’m sure most college students can understand. I think that attending high school during the COVID-19 pandemic made it more difficult for college freshmen to assimilate. 

It wasn't necessarily difficult on an academic level; it was more difficult socially my first semester. It was hard to make friends, a possible consequence from years of quarantining by myself. 

“Making friends was really difficult,” said freshman elementary education major Gabriella Luque. “Meeting people was hard because they weren't as interactive, even when I was trying to make friends it was difficult because people were very reserved.” 

This anti-social behavior is definitely an effect of the pandemic and has been talked about by many of my peers. Freshman nursing major Emma Tretola observed that before the pandemic, “people were conditioned into being social and the pandemic gave us an ‘out,’ like there was no more pressure to be social and then we kind of just stuck with that.”

Luque, in particular, had a very transformative experience her freshman year at Ramapo College because of the pandemic. “During my transition into college life and living on campus, I also had all virtual classes,” said Luque. She emphasized that these virtual classes made her feel lonely on campus. 

“I started to feel alone, I started to feel like I wasn't as much a part of my college as most people, like school counselors and advisors, would want students to be," she said. "And even though I was literally a resident, I just didn't feel like I was a part of the school."

Luque also talked about how she went home often during her first semester. 

“I was having trouble feeling like I belonged,” Luque said. “But I stayed on campus as a resident. Even if I wasn't as social as I wanted to be, or had that many friends, or felt like I wasn't a part of the college, I still got through it.”

Academically, the transition was also difficult, but for me, I especially had trouble balancing school work, extracurriculars and social life. This caused me to fall behind in my classes, which created even more stress. 

From an academic standpoint, Luque observed that she wasn’t fully prepared for college. “I don't know if that was because of the pandemic, but I had no idea what I was walking into,” she said. 

It wasn’t all bad though. Our first semester here at Ramapo inspired a lot of growth. “I had to mature a lot in order to get through college,” said Luque. “I had to face it head on and look at this new semester in a positive way.”